Flying Peach Air with a Baby: A Review
Our inaugural flight with Naia was a quick 2 hour hop from Seoul, Korea to Osaka, Japan. Because the time in the air was so short, we decided to book the cheapest direct flight we could find, and that happened to be on Peach Air – a Japanese budget airline.
The booking process and experience in the air were pretty standard, with extra fees levied for basically anything extra, like checked baggage, meals, or selecting seats. Leg space was essentially non-existent, but the seats were not too uncomfortable and for a short flight, it was totally manageable…even with a 5 month old.
However, the way we were dealt with on each end of the flight was so markedly different, that I think it’s worth writing about.
At Incheon Airport in Korea
Even though we were advised that check-in on Peach Air was only though automated machines, in Seoul, the airline had full counter staff available for check-in and seat assignments.
Normally, any seat near the front, or in emergency exit rows requires extra payment, but in Seoul, the counter staff automatically assigned us to the 2nd row of seats without additional fees or a request. On top of that, they offered us a fast track pass that allowed us to skip the regular security and immigration line-ups, and enter at a separate area.
We were able to keep our own stroller until we reached the departure gate, and received it at the luggage carousel on the other end. We had to sign a waiver stating that we would accept any damages to the stroller at our own expense, but I think this is fairly standard.
Because of these special considerations, we breezed through the entire check-in process, and boarded the flight relaxed and stress-free. Naia slept the entire time and did not cry during take-off or landing.
At the dedicated Peach Air Terminal at Kansai Airport in Japan
In Osaka, check-in was completed via automated kiosk. And while it was a fast, simple and smooth process, baggage check-in was not. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a more inefficient process. Essentially, everyone stood in 1 line to get their bags x-rayed and weighed and then were given back their bags, only to stand in another line to hand them off to an agent who checked in the bags and handled other details.
We also had to surrender our own stroller at the check-in counter. We were given a “Peach stroller” to use in the meantime, but for our little 5 month old it wasn’t ideal because it didn’t recline enough and she kept sliding downwards.
In Japan, the machine auto-spit out seat assignments, and though we didn’t check in at the last minute, AND were traveling with an infant, we were assigned to the very last row of the plane. When I asked them to move us up a little closer to the front because of the baby, not to any special seat, but to any other auto-assigned seat, I was informed that we would have to pay for the seats.
Now obviously I don’t have much experience traveling with children, but I’m pretty sure that sitting in the very last row is enough to make any baby feel claustrophobic and crazy. It’s definitely not the only reason our little one had a difficult flight home, but it was certainly a contributing factor.
There was no dedicated security or immigration available, but it wasn’t really an issue because it was a terminal dedicated to Peach Air alone.
So how did our little one do?
Lex from One Foot Out the Door, perhaps said it best, when she commented “if she’s an easy baby on land, she will be an easy baby in the air.”
Mostly, this was very true. On land, Naia has been an incredibly easy baby so far, hardly crying, eating easily, and sleeping pretty much anywhere we put her down. She continued this pattern on the flight to Osaka, on subways, trains, in restaurants and everywhere else, for most of the trip. So much so, that we were all a little bit in disbelief, and waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The other shoe did eventually drop of course. On the way back to Seoul. But it was mostly the fault of her inexperienced parents. We pushed our little 5 month old pretty hard on her first international trip, visiting 3 cities in 4 days and traveling on subways, trains and buses…all of which she’d never been on before Japan.
She took it all in stride for the most part, but by the time we boarded our 8PM flight back to Seoul, she was completely exhausted, overstimulated and ready for home. She cried for about half of our 2 hour trip back. The only things that paused her unrest were chewing on her best friend, Sophian the giraffe (because in our house, Sophie is a chain-smoking French male giraffe), and Auntie Bora’s rendition of “I Like Big Butts.” :p
We all survived though, and even the never-before witnessed meltdown she had once we got home, was fairly easy to handle, and caused by simple over-tiredness. Like I said, she’s an easy baby, and the meltdown only lasted 10 minutes, before she, and her grateful parents, were off to lalaland for a full 9 hours.
Have you flown with a baby? Was your first experience a nightmare? Or as easy as can be? Let us know all about it in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.